Many independent Business Owners have, at least once, made the marketing mistake of copying some big chain’s marketing. After all, if it worked for them, it’ll work for your small independent business too won’t it?
And it is not your fault.
Marketing for a large corporate brand doesn’t work the same as marketing a small, local independent business. They have HUGE marketing and advertising dollars, along with the collective power of multiple units to get their message out. They use image advertising and likely pay for TV and radio spots that are broadcast to large swaths of the country. Their big budgets allow them to discount items so that they are competing on price, not value and experience. Something you don’t want to do.
If you do what they are doing, you’ve been wasting your dollars. Most of the potential customers that marketing reaches are people far out of your geographic area and are definitely not your target customer.
You need to focus on 4 essential elements in every piece of marketing you create. And that means anything you display in house, anything you mail, anything you give out, any ad you get printed. This applies to websites, social media posts, newspaper, direct mail, postcards, radio, TV. Everything.
The four elements are:
1. An Eye-Catching Headline (which includes email subject lines!)
- This is the first thing your recipient will see; it needs to jump out at them. It can by funny, topical, shocking—anything to grab their attention. Its sole job is to get them to continue reading. You need to grab people by the eyes and force them to read what you have to say about your business.
2. An Irresistible Offer with an expiry date
- Create a reason for them to come in and something to request or bring in so you will know that they responded to your marketing. Keep in mind that offers to get NEW customers need to be stronger than offers to your existing customers, who already know and like you. Existing customers need less convincing and more reminding. It might take a free meal to convince someone to try you the first time, but once they are convinced, then smaller offers like a free dessert, bottomless refills, or special events are often successful. Your offer needs to give your customers a compelling reason to come to your business RIGHT NOW. Your response will be the highest if you make that offer so irresistible that anyone reading the ad will say… Why wouldn’t I do this? Make sure there is an expiry date, without one then the customer can get what you are offering anytime and it’s not special at all. An expiry date or limited quantities creates a sense of urgency.
3. A Call To Action
- This is something that is frequently left out. Generally, your customers will be remarkably good at following directions. People want to know what is expected of them, so tell them EXACTLY what you want them to do. If they have to cut out a certificate and bring it with them before the expiry date, then say that in your advertisement. Be clear and concise. Leave no room for misunderstanding. If people are confused, they will not respond.
4. Compelling Copy that is personalized
- Compelling copy is written when you totally understand and relate to your customers on their level. The better you understand your customers, the easier this is to do. Reiterate your offer and tell them why you want them to have it. Perhaps it’s their birthday, or your businesses’ birthday, or you are reopening after bad weather shut you down, or you have a new menu item, your accountant is on holidays – it doesn’t have to be particularly strong reason, just a reason. Then connect the reason to them, and what problem they have that you solve. When at all possible – which is easy to do when you have a list of your existing customers – make it personalized. “Dear Joanne”, is MUCH better than “Dear Neighbour”. Using their name in the headline won’t cost you extra, so use it there too.
If your marketing doesn’t have these four elements, then it will not be as effective as it could be, or should be, at soliciting a response. And it if doesn’t solicit a specific response, then you are wasting your money. You’re just putting your name out there with some hope that sometime, somewhere down the road it will convert into some business.
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